Use the Front Door

A front door in Delft

If your library’s like mine, you have staff-only ways to access library stuff … things like employee parking, a staff-only entrance, a back-end way to access the library catalog, etc. Whenever I put a book on hold, I get it delivered via inter-office mail.

I never have to use the library like a patron if I don’t want to!

My question – is this a good thing?

Try using your library like a patron. Is it easy or hard? Is there something that frustrates you about the whole process? It’s probably doing the same thing to your patrons.

Here’s a thought – maybe we should create a “Work Like a Patron” week, where we only use the library like our customers do – use your library’s wifi (bonus points for using a Public PC), search using the patron version of your catalog, maybe even sit at those lovely desks in the library. Or hang out in a cafe, accessing all work- and library-related stuff from outside of the building. Use the front door, and see the library through your patrons’ eyes.

This works for the IT department, too. Use library employee tools like … library employees, rather than like IT dudes and dudettes. Is it hard? If so … it’s probably hard for the rest of the library, too. Make it work for everyone!

If it works wonderfully, great! If not, maybe you have some things to improve.

Is the Web Modern Yet?

Today’s web is the “modern web” – css, HTML5 coming soon, websites designed with grids, lots of functionality. Yes-sirree, this is the modern web.

Just like this was a modern car:

This “modern car” could’t move fast enough for today’s modern highways (top speeds of 40-45 mph), wasn’t automatic, and didn’t have a/c, radio, or an iPod hookup. Or windows, for that matter. But I’m guessing that to the buyer back then, it was a pretty modern car, and a major change for them. They had to figure out the details of the change – i.e., what should we do with Bessie the horse? Where do we park it? Where do we get gas? How do we maintain it?

My point? That’s where the web is today – roughly 20 years after the first web page went online, we have today’s “modern” web. It certainly looks pretty modern to us, much like those cars from 1927 probably looked to the buyer.

Guess what? Much like that Model T … I don’t think we’re done yet. With websites or with libraries.

Car photo from Wikipedia

Be a Forward-Moving Thinker

Our deputy director asked for input from staff on being a 21st-century librarian – what skill sets are needed for the librarian of today/tomorrow/next year.

I had some thoughts, and I also poked around on some articles and posts discussing the topic. A lot of them mention “the ability to embrace change” as an important skill set.

I don’t think “embracing change” is necessarily the end result we’re looking for. Here’s why. It’s quite possible to do nothing until you are told to change, and then to embrace that change. One of those “ok, the boss says I have to blog now. I can do that.”

You could be patting yourself on the back for your mad “embracing change” skills, but are missing the point entirely. I think there are some librarians in our profession that go about change in this passive way – and to be fair, many of them are well-meaning. They’re just doing their jobs. The job changed, so they accept – even embrace – those changes as they occur.

Let me ask: Managers – is that what you meant by “embracing change?” I’m guessing the answer is “no, not quite.” It’s part-way there, but not all the way.

Here’s what I’d like to switch the “embracing change” idea to: “Being a Forward-Moving Thinker.”

To me, being a “forward-moving thinker” means that the librarian is actively pursuing and making and suggesting changes – to the boss, to the team, to the library – rather than passively waiting for those changes to happen. To me anyway, this hits on that active approach I’m thinking about. It’s a librarian DOING SOMETHING to make his or her job better, to adapt to new technology as needed (maybe even a little before it’s needed). It’s a librarian thinking strategically about their job.

See the difference? Thoughts?

Photo by Eric Magnuson

A Book Review of Designing the Digital Experience

Designing the Digital ExperienceMy publisher just told me about a review of my book Designing the Digital Experience, and I thought I’d share it with you. The review was published in New Library World (Vol 111, No. 7/8, pg 359-360), and was written by Sarah McNicol.

She nailed it (and I’m not just saying that because it was a positive review). Here’s the start of the review:

“David Lee King is a librarian at the Topeka & Shawnee Country Public Library in Kansas, but he also writes an excellent blog (www.davidleeking.com) on emerging trends in library web sites and digital technology. In this book, he writes in the same accessible and interesting style, focusing on experience design and its role in building web sites. This is not a book about technical specifics, nor a step-to-step guide to building a web site, rather it is a book to make librarians and others, including web developers and marketing professionals, think more deeply about how they design an experience so web site users are “enchanted and captivated.”

Yes! I never intended to write a step-by-step guide to building an experience – how the heck do you do that, anyway? Building experiences, even digital ones, really depends on your individual setting – your staff, your stuff, and your community. My hope is that you read my book, and think. Think about how you can transform a simple website into an interactive experience – much like you already do in your physical buildings.

And … since I’m writing about the book … why not throw in a discount, too? If you buy the book from Information Today before September 5, use this promo code – ITISP. It will give you a discount. Otherwise, buy it from Amazon.

Thanks for reading! And … drumroll please … look for my second book sometime next year! I am a week or so away from sending it to the publisher to do the editing thing to it. Fingers crossed, and more info coming!

Seriously Social: Focus on Facebook (new presentation)

I recently gave this presentation at ALA11 and at the Virtual ALA11 conference, along with Kolene Allen who focused on Twitter. Both sessions went well … and someone has been asking me to post my slides! So here they are:

In my part of the presentation, I talked about what libraries can do with Facebook Pages, and why they might want to use Facebook Pages to reach out to customers.

If you’re interested, this fall (November 2) I’ll be doing a 90-minute version of this, through the great ALA Techsource webinars – stay tuned for that later on this year!